As part of the Amazon Vine review program, I requested and received a copy of David Crystal's book Txtng: The Gr8 Db8. Being the proud owner of an iPhone with two older children, I've done my share of texting with them and others in my circle of friends. While the book does do a good job in examining the pros and cons of texting on our language skills, it was far too academic for my liking. Conversely, if you were teaching a class (or were interested) in linguistics, there'd be a lot in this book that would fascinate you. Guess it all depends on your reason and/or expectations for reading it.
The hype about texting; How weird is texting?; What makes texting distinctive?; What do they do it?; Who texts?; What do they text about?; How do other languages do it?; Why all the fuss?; Glossary; Appendix A - English text abbreviations; Appendix B - Text abbreviations in eleven languages; Index
Crystal is a professor of linguistics in the United Kingdom, and he's spent considerable time and effort studying the subject of text messaging. His main argument is with those who decry "text speak" as the death knell of proper writing skills. He reaches the exact opposite conclusion in his opinion. The ability to shorten, abbreviate, and combine sounds to create written communication has been around as long as language itself, and the core skills involved in creating text messages are the same as a person would use for any other written form of communication. The hysteria of those who don't understand it is countered by solid statistics and research provided by Crystal. In fact, there are entire competitions devoted to creating poetry that is restricted to the 140 character limit often imposed on SMS text messages. While some win the contest with full words (just not very many of them), others push the boundaries of texting and create emotional works using sentences like "txtin iz messin, mi headn'me englis". While not a "language" that would be officially recognized as such, it's difficult to believe that someone couldn't figure out exactly what was meant in those lines. And really, that's the goal of communication.
I found some of the material interesting, as well as his non-gloom-and-doom attitude quite refreshing. But it bogged down at times when it came to detailed statistics about who does what most often. A serious student of linguistics might be interested in knowing how women and men differ in their texting, or how the different age groups might approach it. But from my techo-geek perspective, I found myself in rapid skim mode more often than not. I feel that your enjoyment of the book will be based on proper expectations. If you want a scholarly approach to the subject backed up by research, it's great. If you're more interested in a "hacker's" view of texting, then you may be left wanting...